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Lucrative Hybrid Skills to Develop for Accounting and Finance Professionals

           With the Deep-Dive Insights Series, Aston Carter takes a closer look at emerging trends in the evolving job market that will affect both employers and candidates alike. As businesses adjust to overwhelming change — remote work, major shifts in demand, a new economy, new regulations — an “all hands on deck” approach is increasingly necessary. Finance and accounting roles are hybridizing to adapt.

In today’s business environment, it’s increasingly important for finance and accounting candidates to showcase additional soft skills outside of their core competencies, emphasizing strengths in areas like communication, technology, and leadership. Businesses are looking for talent that can fulfill multiple roles at once, moving fluidly between related workflows and bringing broader perspectives to tasks that had previously been siloed.

That means spells an opportunity for finance and accounting employees who can develop hybrid skills. But which skills are the most valuable in a constantly evolving marketplace?

We recommend the following:

Refine Workflows with a Project Management Mindset

The accelerating pace of change the world experienced in the 2020s forced accelerated timelines for technology implementations, introduced new workflows and revealed new gaps in business-as-usual processes.

Now’s a great time to build your project management skills to help refine new processes and offer fresh perspectives to legacy workflows. A demonstrated understanding of project management methodologies, such as Agile, will come in handy for every professional, but it will be especially valuable for workflows related to the technical and computational aspects of finance. 

In essence, it’s easier to teach an accounting professional how to manage projects than it is to teach a project manager how to execute systems with the knowledge and expertise of a CPA. Businesses know this and will reward candidates who display a project management mindset and skills to supplement accounting expertise.

Activate Skills that Drive Digital Transformation

A project management mindset involves venturing into new projects, including software implementations and integrations. On top of daily operational tasks, the learning curve for developing new technological proficiencies can be prohibitively steep, and many finance and accounting professionals shy away from the challenge. 

That’s a huge missed opportunity. Skills developed through taking an active role in exploring and evolving organizational use of new technologies are easily transferable and highly valuable within the broader job market.

As opportunities arise, offer to test new platforms, vendor communications, features and data layer testing. Developing fluency in technology implementations will help your long-term career prospects.

Become Entrepreneurial about Data Management

Similar to software and technology implementations, data management skills are key for finance and accounting professionals in accelerating career advancement. 

This has always been true, with Excel skills topping the list of basic requirements for a wide variety of finance jobs. But as big data proliferates, cloud analytics tools such as Azure and AWS will be added to that list in the near future, and working toward proficiency in basic data science will soon be as important as Excel is now.

Look into any opportunity to work with data science colleagues on building new automation mechanisms. Learn by asking questions about forecast models, and seek to understand the assumptions they’re built on. 

Skill Up for Governance, Risk and Compliance

Data and technology skills are key, but there’s also an opportunity to shore up your knowledge of governance, risk and compliance (GRC). 

GRC is growing in as much importance as technology development, but it’s an area that requires more of an academic mindset than programming skills. After all, laws, rules and compliance standards are evolving rapidly, especially within regulated industries that most frequently employ accounting and finance specialists.

Stay alert to industry chatter on upcoming policy transformations that could impact your industry, and set up lines of communication with colleagues that have backgrounds in risk and compliance or legal responsibilities. A quick question about how the business will respond to a proposed change may get you a uniquely informed answer that could flag an imminent issue in your usual workflow or introduce you to a new realm where you could develop expertise. 

Cultivate Culture

Given recent wholesale changes to the way business is conducted, leadership may be the most important hybrid skill to develop. If you can solve problems by being an active participant in building a safe, accountable culture with clear expectations, you’ll that will go a long way no matter where you’re hoping to take your career. 

The concept of leadership has recently broadened to include practices such as leading from a place of vulnerability and transparency. Anything that inspires connectivity and building deep partnerships while achieving results is highly valued. Effective leadership skills will have a lasting impact on your personal growth, the growth of others and the organizations you support — whether you’re leading from an office environment or a remote workspace.

Finance and accounting professionals have always been expected to take care of numbers — if you can take care of people too, you’ll be sought after.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to expand your skills, explore new positions with Aston Carter.

Other entries in our Deep-Dive Insights Series on job market trends:

How Healthcare Organizations Can Lead in a Virtual World

4 Benefits of Contingent Staffing and Professional Services

Keys for Success in Hiring and Retaining a Remote Workforce

4 Ways for Professionals to Thrive in a Virtual Work Environment